Oh the song of the future has been sung
All the battles have been won
On the mountain tops we stand
All the world at our command
We have opened up her soil
With our teardrops and our toil …
Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian Railroad Trilogy
click images for web links to biographical backgrounds
Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. The year was 1955. The city was Montgomery, Alabama. She had no history of civil disobedience. It wasn’t a civil rights protest. She was tired after a long day of work. On that particular day, Rosa Parks decided that the status quo was just not right, and I was tired of it.
Of the dozens or hundreds of brave civil rights pioneers who struggled in those early decades not only for black equality, but for the very idea of it, Rosa Parks remains dear to the hearts of millions of Americans. She showed in a direct, personal way how the politics of prejudice isn’t only class discrimination, as wrong as that is. Parks’ action dramatized how injustice strikes to the root existence of every American.
Parks had been and remained active in the NAACP and other positions related to civil rights. She later said, “If people think of me in that way, I just accept the honor and appreciate it” [grandtimes.com]. She was quoted as having written in her autobiography, Quiet Strength, “Four decades later I am still uncomfortable with the credit given to me for starting the bus boycott. I would like [people] to know I was not the only person involved. I was just one of many who fought for freedom.”
Thank you, Rosa.